Should you be studying Business English?
English is the accepted business language of today’s global economy. It can be heard in meeting rooms from Sacramento to Singapore, from Berlin to Beijing. These days, if you want to negotiate with a new supplier or give that contract-winning sales pitch, knowing the right variation of English could be vital. That’s where Business English comes in, but what does in involve?
Business English is taught as an ESP module (English for Special Purposes). This means that although your general level of the language should not be neglected, a suitable course will focus on the vocabulary and skills that are immediately useful to someone who works in a corporate environment.
Note: Although there are introductory coursebooks available at lower levels, it is advisable to attain a minimum level of B2 in General English before enrolling in a Business English course. Simply put, you need to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in written form on everyday topics and in everyday situations before you begin to study specialist vocabulary. Otherwise, a lack of grammatical accuracy and/or spoken fluency may hold you back in the business world.
What kind of vocabulary will I be studying on a Business English course?
Within the Business English world, there is a wide range of possible topics to study. Some examples include Human Resources, Sales and Marketing, Finance, Starting a New Business, International Relations and Customer Service. Which one(s) you study rely on a number of conditions: Firstly, if you attend a group lesson, you may end up studying whatever topic is being focused on in class that week. The teacher may not have much flexibility in this regard. However, you will still be taught and given practice in a variety of business skills that are mostly independent of topic. Alternatively, if you were to opt for one-to-one lessons, you would usually be able to decide with the teacher what topics would be most beneficial to your own professional life. Of course, individual courses tend to be more expensive, but they are also more customised to your specific needs.
What are these skills you keep on mentioning?
Regardless of which vocabulary set is being taught in class, a good Business English course will regularly cover a number of communication skills which are vital for all successful professionals. These include, but are not limited to, formal writing skills (reports, emails, proposals, meeting agendas), negotiating skills, making decisions, public speaking (presentations, sales pitches, speeches) , telephone etiquette, participating in meetings, and many more.
Sounds great! Where do I sign up?
If you think a Business English course would suit you, then talk to reception or make an appointment with the Academic Office (through the CEC website). This way, you will be able to find out whether a Business English course is currently being run which suits your needs.
And if my level of English is not high enough for the courses on offer?
Don’t worry! Continuing in General English classes will get you to the level you need to eventually qualify for a place in a Business English course. And in the meantime, you will still be improving on one essential aspect of professional communication: small talk*!
*small talk: conversations on everyday neutral topics, often expected in a number of business situations.
Some useful links:
https://www.ted.com/talks (essential viewing for all Business English students!)